Early this morning I set off to climb the highest peak near Boulder. I didn’t make it. I am not is as good a shape as I thought I was.
I planned to high up a lateral of the Mesa Trail called the Shadow Canyon Trail and on to the summit of South Boulder Peak. The trail starts at the south end of the Mesa Trail in Eldorado Canyon at 5,600 feet. The peak is 8,549 feet. I only made it to 8,200 feet at the pass (or “saddle”) between South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak, The final 350 feet were out of my reach today.
As I approached the saddle I realized that it would have to be my destination today for a couple of reasons. I had started up Shadow Canyon Trail three or four times in the past few years, and it always did seem pretty tough going. And the higher you go the worse it gets.
One of my guidebooks calls the trail “extremely strenuous” and another calls it “brutal.” I agree. It’s not only one of the most relentlessly steep trails I have ever climbed but it also requires climbing over boulders most of the way. By the time I got within a mile of the saddle I was so tired that I wobbled. I guessed that my blood glucose had dropped pretty low from the exertion and lack of any carbohydrates to that point. So I opened a package of emergency rations of glucose tablets and took three of them. With that I made it to the summit.
Later in the hike I ate the other seven glucose tablets during rest stops. I needed them. Even with all that glucose my blood glucose level when I got home was just 88.
Fueled by the glucose tablets, as I came back down the trail my energy level returned. But the hike I made today took me almost 9 hours and it was 6:30 before I got back to the trailhead. If I had gone on to the summit of South Boulder Peak I wouldn’t have had enough time to get back down before sundown.
Still, in other respects the hike was a success. The weather was wonderful. I also continued my search for photographs of early spring wildflowers and found some worth sharing from among the 66 photos I took today. In addition to the flowers, I got some close-up shots of one of the most prominent features of the Boulder horizon, “Devil’s Thumb.” I see it practically every day when I look up into the mountains and never imagined that I would look down on it, as I did today.